Professor Takes Leadership Role in Electrical Engineering Department
Dr. Lawrence Overzet
Dr. Lawrence Overzet, a longtime professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at UT Dallas, has been chosen to lead the department this fall.
In 1988, Overzet joined the Department of Electrical Engineering, which is routinely in the top 15 U.S. programs for the number of degrees awarded annually and includes members of the Texas Analog Center of Excellence, the largest university-based analog center in the world. The department, along with the Department of Computer Science, was a cornerstone in the creation of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science in 1986.
“The Jonsson School was built in large part on a strong foundation in electrical engineering,” said Dr. Mark W. Spong, dean of the Jonsson School and holder of both the Lars Magnus Ericsson Chair in Electrical Engineering and Excellence in Education Chair. “Larry understands this, and with a stellar record of research and teaching, there is no better person to bring his colleagues alongside him to advance the department. He has my full confidence and support.”
Overzet said he hopes to build on his faculty relationships and the excellence already in place to increase the department’s standing in national rankings to be on par with national research universities.
“I have a lot of trust in my colleagues here. They are good, smart, hardworking professionals who push the envelope,” he said. “I want to see them empowered to make things better.”
“The Jonsson School was built in large part on a strong foundation in electrical engineering. Larry understands this, and with a stellar record of research and teaching, there is no better person to bring his colleagues alongside him to advance the department. He has my full confidence and support.”
Overzet’s appointment follows that of Dr. James Coleman, holder of the Erik Jonsson Distinguished Chair and Chair in Electrical Engineering. Coleman stepped down to focus on developing the Texas Photonics Center, a new UT Dallas initiative that is intended to increase the effort on campus in the rapidly growing field of photonic materials, devices and systems.
Overzet earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has varied research interests, but he has primarily focused on plasma etching and plasma deposition — either removing or adding materials using plasma technologies. A common example of the types of plasmas he studies is the fluorescent lamp. The plasma, also known as a glow discharge, just produces light. The plasmas he studies also produce light, but more importantly, are used to fabricate today’s electronic components in computers and other everyday equipment.
“Plasmas are a key enabling technology for industry worldwide and are stunningly complicated,” he said. “Today’s electronic devices could not be made without plasmas because they enable machining on an atomic scale. Nothing else comes close.”
In particular, his group has diagnosed the low-pressure plasmas used in semiconductor device processing, developed diagnostics for pulsed plasmas, and patented a high-density plasma source as well as a balanced-charge approach to plasma processing using ion-ion plasmas.
Every summer since 2004, Overzet has traveled to France to conduct research on plasma etching and microplasmas, as well as to mentor graduate students. In 2012, he spent a year in France as a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellow.
At UT Dallas, Overzet helped shape the Department of Electrical Engineering upon his arrival as part of the second class of faculty members recruited to the department. He was promoted to full professor in 2000, and served as associate head of the department from 2006 to 2012. More recently, he was an associate dean in charge of assessment activities across the school.
Overzet, a licensed professional engineer and holder of nine patents, has received several honors, including fellow of the AVS, the University’s Polykarp Kusch Lecturer in 2005 and a recipient of the University of Texas System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award in 2011. He is also a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, active in his Christian church and a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society.
Overzet has advised nearly 20 doctoral and 25 master’s students. He has published more than 75 journal articles and given about 240 presentations at international symposia, including more than 60 invited presentations.
Overzet views his appointment as an opportunity to make decisions for the benefit of his electrical engineering colleagues.
“Department head is a position of service,” Overzet said. “It is my goal to serve the department well, and to treat my colleagues and students fairly and rightly, to be helpful in moving things along. I need to be giving of myself — my energy, my intelligence — so that they can do better.”
Dr. Lawrence Overzet
TITLE: head of the Department of Electrical Engineering, professional engineer
RESEARCH INTERESTS: plasma science, plasma processing, etching, deposition, microplasmas, semiconductor device manufacturing, carbon nanotubes, semiconductor device theory
EDUCATION: bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].